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Trump’s resolve to skip Fox debate leaves Republicans reeling

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke during a Saturday campaign rally at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

WASHINGTON » Donald Trump’s announcement that he would skip the next Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News roiled fellow Republicans five days before the Iowa caucuses and left the hosts scrambling.

“He’s not afraid to take a question,” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “The issue is an issue of fairness.”

While Lewandowski repeatedly accused the network of bias and said moderator Megyn Kelly is “obsessed” with Trump, Fox said the Trump campaign threatened Kelly during negotiations. The network also released a sarcastic statement after Trump’s decision suggesting the real-estate mogul wouldn’t be able to handle world leaders like Vladimir Putin who might also treat him “unfairly.”

The debate is scheduled to be the last major Republican forum before the first-in-the-nation caucuses for both parties in Iowa on Feb. 1. The infighting between Republicans, frontrunner Trump and the leading news network for conservative politics over debates runs counter to the attempts by the party’s leaders to create a more orderly nominating process than the 2012 primaries. Trump’s choice to forgo the debate was condemned by many Republicans and some of his rivals.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, urged Trump to reverse course because of that timing.

“You’re in a primary right now. Talk to the people that are going to vote in the primary,” Giuliani said today on CNN’s “New Day.” “So my advice to my friend Donald would be, surprise them, show up.”

Rivals of Trump also weighed in. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has been battling with Trump for supremacy in the Iowa caucus, challenged him “to a one-on-one debate” on Twitter.

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, wrote “Exactly” on Twitter when retweeting a statement from the conservative journalist Erick Erickson.

“So Donald Trump can’t handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly, but he’ll be able to handle Hillary Clinton. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,” Erickson wrote.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus had worked to limit the number of debate and include conservative moderators in an attempt to help their party’s candidates in 2016.

An RNC spokesman suggested Republican leadership would not be getting involved.

“Obviously we would love all of the candidates to participate, but each campaign ultimately makes their own decision what’s in their best interest,” the spokesman, Sean Spicer said, according to a statement.

Trump continued to blast Fox News and Kelly in Twitter posts today, even as some observers wondered whether the tycoon, who often touts his willingness to walk away from negotiations to exact concessions, might decide to attend the debate after all.

“I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo, because that would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call her a lightweight reporter!” Trump said on Twitter.

He followed up with another post this morning.

“The statement put out yesterday by FoxNews was a disgrace to good broadcasting and journalism. Who would ever say something so nasty & dumb.”

Kelly said on her show Tuesday night that the network would not be altering its moderator line-up.

“The truth is, he doesn’t get to control the media, and while he’s made his position clear about me after that first debate, Roger Ailes made his position clear too,” Kelly said.

Other campaigns were asking Trump’s campaign if they could join the rally he plans to host for the non-profit Wounded Warriors Project charity instead, Lewandowski said this morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“We’ve had calls from many debates — uh, from many of the candidates now who say, ‘Look, why would we participate in the Fox debate as well?’” Lewandowski said.

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  • Trump is the man–the only one who can stand up to the media. He knows the poll numbers go up whenever he’s on TV. Let Kelly wink her false eyelashes at someone else.

    • Okay, “…stand up to the media” by saying “You’re mean to me and I’m not going to play with you?” The best response was from Erick Erickson “So Donald Trump can’t handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly, but he’ll be able to handle Hillary Clinton…”

      Trump however, knows some stuff about entertainment that none of the other candidates seem to get. When the spotlight is not shining brightly enough in his direction, he’s a master at stealing it from the other performers, completely upstaging them and leaving them wondering “What just happened?”

      • Agree Trump is like Obama, always saying what the public wants to hear and talks big but no action. Trump’s got voters like Sarah Palin, Mel Gibson, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Paula Dean, Michael Richards, Hannity and Scott Caan of 5-0. Unfortunately for Trump, there is just not enough Caucasian voters that think like Trump to elect him Pres. of the US. Trump is only in this for himself and not so much getting a Republican elected Pres. first. A successful Pres of the US is a team leader, as well as a leader and Trump the dictator will not be much of an improvement over the current administration.

        • Obama’s record will show him with a record high stock market. Trump will have record low stock market.

      • Trump caters mainly towards the disgruntled white folks who are seeing their position in life slipping away with the country increasingly becoming more and more diverse. They long for the good ole days when uneducated whites were making a good living doing menial factory work, favored only because of their race. Jobs which now are being done by robots and machines. Thus Trump’s slogan of “He’ll make America great again” resonates. Nonsense. Those days will never return fortunately. Now, the skilled worker of all colors are in demand, especially in the STEM fields. That’s the way it should be.

  • “join the rally he plans to host for the non-profit Wounded Warriors Project charity instead”

    NYT reports that for WW “About 40 percent of the organization’s donations in 2014 were spent on its overhead”, contrasted with 8 percent for Semper Fi.

    Instead, maybe consider the traditional DAV, which has been doing this efficiently and modestly for years?

    • At least the Wounded Warriors Project is better than the fake group, Veterans for a Strong America, that scammed Trump into holding a “benefit” on a decommissioned battleship last September. Although Trump said in a speech on the battleship USS Iowa that he had been endorsed by the 100,000+ members of the organization, if fact, the organization is one man and at that time it had $30 in assets, $318 in debts and no 501(c)(3) status. Trump who loves to call other people stupid was a stooge for a scam that anyone with access to a computer and a few minutes of free time might have learned was a complete fraud.

      But then, Trump is a scammer, too. Research Trump University or Trump Mortgage, both of which were cynical scams that he never mentions.

  • “So Donald Trump can’t handle tough questions from Megyn Kelly, but he’ll be able to handle Hillary Clinton. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha,” Erickson wrote.”

    I estimate that for statements that have to resort to this, each “ha” indicates an IQ deficiency limitation of 2 points. Starting with the average IQ of 100, that puts Ericson at 68, which seems about right.

  • Don’t you folks understand the tactic? If he doesn’t participate, he can later pontificate and take shots at every debater and every argument that WAS part of the debate, and no one has an opportunity for rebuttal. He’s trying to take the debate out of the realm of genuine debate so he can guarantee himself the last word.

    • Trump’s strategy has nothing to do with Megan Kelly. This is the debate when the other candidates would have finally (and much too belatedly) realized that they have to attack Trump directly, and Trump knows that. He’s afraid of how that scenario would play out. It’s a desperate move by someone who knows that name calling is not a defense against the criticism that he he is rightly vulnerable to. Trump, who presents the full suite of symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, is afraid that if he shows up, it will be an emperor’s new clothes moment, when his competitors expose the shallowness of his ideas (which is not to suggest that they aren’t mental midgets, too).

  • I would be terribly embarrassed if my father acted this way. I just can’t imagine the leader of our country acting even remotely as unsophisticated and sophomoric as Trump is acting. It really is no wonder that other countries view Americans as brash, arrogant and self-centered.

  • The only reason why people likes him is because he talks tough. Don’t think that will work if he becomes President. He may draw attention from the other leaders and Congress but i think that’s about it.Going to be interesting though.

  • To debate or not to debate…that is the question? I’m not buying Trump’s phony whine about Fox News being nasty or mean. I’m not buying Megyn Kelly’s phony tough questions. Although I thought the question she asked at the first debate was legitimate, the timing and the attitude with which she asked it showed she was definitely looking for a gotcha moment. I believe Trump is making a big mistake, at least in Iowa, because this doesn’t make him look Presidential and until he’s standing on the steps of the Capital being inaugurated, there are sometimes you need to be humble.

  • Politicians know how to spice and butter up an answer. Trump is not a politician. He is a business man that is looking to maximize the system on his terms.

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